Washoe Woman sculpture placed in park | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Washoe Woman sculpture placed in park

Without television and few leisure activities available, Arnold Aragon and his cousins, who grew up on a Laguna Indian reservation in New Mexico, turned their energies to drawing horses, deer and, like most children, comic book characters.

“I have always drawn, ever since I was a child,” he said.

When Aragon was 18 years old and living in Vermont, he took trips to New York, Boston and Washington D.C. where he marveled at the marble sculptures, especially the Lincoln Memorial, but he had no idea that some day he, too, would carve a sculpture out of the same material – Yule Marble from Colorado.

That sculpture is the Washoe Woman, located off U.S. Highway 50 in Linear Park, a project that was secured by a $22,000 grant from the former arts coordinator Phylise Walker, according to City Planner Gary Marchio.

Aragon, 45, of Native American heritage, is part Crow and part Laguna, but there are no direct blood lines from him to the Washoe – except of course for his sculpture.

“When I was originally going to do it I heard it was the original camping grounds of the Washoe,” he said. “And I wanted to do something that would represent their culture.”

The sculpture is of a Washoe woman sitting down and holding a baby.

“The woman represents the tribe,” Aragon said. “The baby represents the future.”

Aragon learned to sculpt at the Institute of Native American Arts in Santa Fe New Mexico, from which he graduated in 1980.

He now lives with his wife on the Walker River Indian Reservation in Schurz, Nev., where he sculpts full time and has done so for 22 years.

Most of Aragon’s work has been of animals such as bears, buffaloes and eagles, but he also sculpts figures of Native American women.

“It’s just interesting to experiment with shape,” he said.

But for Aragon the Washoe Woman is more than just a sculpture.

“It represents my first major piece,” he said. “And it was a big step going from the small pieces I normally do.”

The sculpture, literally larger than life., is 4 feet high, and the woman is in a sitting position.

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